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The Five Hole: An Everlasting Image, and the Everlasting David Perron

That image of Alex Pietrangelo hoisting the Cup will live forever — as will, it appears, David Perron’s offensive production.

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-St. Louis Blues at Boston Bruins Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

This story originally appeared on Page 5 (The Five Hole) of the Oct. 30, 2019 edition of the St. Louis Game Time paper, sold outside of every Blues home game. For more information or to subscribe, email gtbradlee@gmail.com

A Bruins fan somewhere on Twitter said something on Saturday to the effect of: “You don’t see us Bruins fans repeatedly posting the GIF of when we won the Cup in 2011. You’re living in the past. Move on.” But you see, for most of our lives, the Blues winning the Cup was a vision that we got to see only in video games, on the back of our eyelids, and on the movie screen in our heads at night as we dreamt. Until June 12, 2019.

Most things only happen if you expect the reward to be greater than the risk. You paid $4 for this paper because you thought it would be worth it. You only walk out the front door if you expect the day will not be totally and completely miserable. But sports fandom? Well, there are many reasons we go through with it — to bond with friends and family, to feel like part of a community — but the one we tell ourselves is, “To see my team win a championship.”

And yet, as we’re experiencing now, if we isolate that part of the payoff, it was nowhere near worth it. The thing happened, we had the parade, it lasted for one afternoon, and then … life went on. But damnit, we have that GIF of Petro hoisting the Cup. I send it to my brother after losses. I sent it when Vladdy’s injury was announced. It’s as close to forever as we’re gonna get. No, Mr. Bruins Fan, we will not move on.

Five thoughts from the dark side of the moon.

1. David Perron’s wrist-shot is the eighth wonder of the world.

I meant to write about it for last Thursday’s game against Los Angeles but ran out of space — and that was before the rocket he unfurled on an unsuspecting Jonathan Bernier in Detroit.

I can’t remember it always being this lethal, but I do remember the moment I realized Perron had a bright NHL future. You probably think I mean something from his rookie year, when the white-skated, late-first-round pick scored 13 goals in the NHL as a 19-year old. Maybe you thought about that toe-drag move at the blue line against the Islanders in 2009:

But I knew David Perron was for real on January 9, 2010 when the Blues were in LA. He had some space down the left wing, stopped on a dime to let Dustin Brown fly past, then ripped a wrister past Jon Quick’s glove hand, off the post and in. It remains one of the coolest goals I’ve ever seen. At the 3:46 mark:

2. This year, all six of his goals have come on wristers.

The first of his two in Ottawa was filthy. (The 1:20 mark.)

That one-timer from the middle, with a delayed penalty on the Avalanche, was immaculately placed. He made Carey Price look silly (3:22).

And then Sunday’s shot was flat-out unfair.

He’s got six assists to go along with his six goals, by the way, and appears headed toward a third consecutive, damn good season. In fact, aside from 2014–15, split between Edmonton and Pittsburgh, and 2015–16, split between Pittsburgh and Anaheim (which were merely down years, not disasters) Perron has never had a bad season. Yes, the o-zone penalties are frustrating and yes, he’s disappeared in the playoffs once or twice. But his metronomically consistent offensive production is worth every penny the Blues have paid him over his career.

3. Ryan O’Reilly is one crafty son of a gun.

Plays like the ones he made against Boston and Detroit will keep him in the league long enough, potentially, to become the last player in the NHL who doesn’t wear a visor. Twice, instead of just dumping the puck into the o-zone, he chipped the puck toward the net so that it would bounce before getting to the goalie. Ask any goalie: Those are nightmares.

4. Remember when Jamie Benn did the same thing in Game 7? Another of the few, the proud, the visor-less (also downtown-averse), with his team having been pulverized for nearly 60 minutes, bounced a puck on net in the dying seconds of regulation. That would’ve been a Blues-y way to Blues a playoff series.

5. The back-and-forth tilt in Detroit on Sunday reminded me of April 2, 2009. The Blues, in the thick of the playoff hunt for the first time in years, went on the road against the best team in the league. David Backes scored a hat-trick but the Blues lost a lead late … before Backes scored his fourth just 26 seconds later for the win. I miss those days.

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If you enjoyed this story — and even if you didn’t — you should check out my book, Ticketless: How Sneaking Into The Super Bowl And Everything Else (Almost) Held My Life Together.